Neither dog turd nor diamond
Gossip - A Joyful Noise

Beth Dditto is unequivocally a good thing: marvellous vocalist, magnificent onstage, an absolute mensch. If only, it’s hard not to think, Gossip were just a little bit better.

Last time out, Rick Rubin failed to glean greatness from the Washington State trio - though 2009’s ‘Music For Men’ did have its moments. And recent recordings with Mark Ronson seem to have been discarded - they certainly don’t appear here. So in steps Brian Higgins, the man who made Girls Aloud dancefloor darlings from Dartford to Dalston.

Perhaps disappointingly, his work here will scare only the wussiest of horses. ‘A Joyful Noise’ is slicker and synthier than previous Gossip LPs, and there’s the odd unexpected sonic reference, but it’s no reinvention. Last year, Ditto turned house diva on a fabulous, SMD-produced solo EP, but those talents get tapped just once.

Of course, the problem isn’t the production though; it’s the songs. There are a couple of crackers - ‘Casualties Of War’, with its dash of Fleetwood Mac, and the Killers-ish single ‘Perfect World’ - and one utter dud. It’s called ‘Horns’ and it sounds like the theme tune to a cheesy Seventies cop show - one presumably called The Beat Goes On, because that’s the cliché Ditto reels out on the chorus. (For all her gifts, Beth isn’t the niftiest lyricist.)

However, most of these tunes are neither dog turd nor diamond. They’re decent-ish disco-punk stompers sold by the vocal. Thank God, it’s too easy to think, Gossip were blessed with that singer.



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